Law360 featured Gabe Galanda in "Big Lagoon Case Presents Key Test For Tribal Casino Deals."
For many tribes, the recent Big Lagoon decision was seen as an expansion of the Patchak decision that could allow nearly indefinite challenges to tribal projects, particularly casinos.
"Patchak essentially extended the statute of limitations on challenges to Indian trust status from 30 days to six years. Big Lagoon has further extended it to 20 years, if not an entire century," said Gabriel S. Galanda of Galanda Broadman PLLC. "If the original decision is sustained, horrifically, there will be no such thing as quiet title to Indian trust lands. The results for tribes would be disastrous in countless ways."
Big Lagoon had originally brought the suit against California in an effort to compel the state into negotiations for its casino proposal.
"California will certainly make as much hay as possible about the gameability issue, because if they succeed in getting the 11-judge panel to affirm the three-judge panel's decision, the state will gain leverage in compact and other negotiations with tribes," Galanda said.
Should California win in its endeavor before the en banc panel on Wednesday, several tribal casino projects could be placed at risk, according to experts.
"Folks in the Indian casino development world, most notably financiers, are certainly adding 'Big Lagoon' to their due diligence lists," Galanda said. "But because the original Ninth Circuit decision is so anomalous — so much so that the United States is now advocating against that decision as an amicus — they are holding their breath for reversal."
Should Big Lagoon lose, however, several attorneys would expect to see a Supreme Court bid.
"If Big Lagoon loses on the Indian land gameability issue, they will have no choice but to appeal to the Supreme Court. And despite the recent tribal win in Bay Mills, the tribe should be afraid — very, very afraid — about that possibility," Galanda said. "Patchak, in particular, does not portend well for Big Lagoon should they need to seek review by the high court. Nor does Carcieri."
Gabriel “Gabe” Galanda is the Managing Partner at Galanda Broadman. He is a citizen of the Round Valley Indian Tribes. Gabe can be reached at 206.300.7801 or firstname.lastname@example.org.